Leadership Development

Leadership development has been and probably will be for some time, the subject of much discussion among researchers, consultants and HR professionals alike.

As a management consultant in my 25th year of professional practice, I am concerned that we are still seeing the same content and processes across industry, often with little or no significant or sustainable impact on participants and therefore on their businesses.  And yet, for the most part, the content and processes are sound.  We are not seeing the old outdoor challenge activities masquerading as leadership development.  We are not seeing the death by power-point presentations sending everyone to sleep, and we are not seeing the mountains of butcher paper covering the walls with the same old lists of behaviours…….. or at least we are seeing a lot less of these type of activities!

What is concerning me is the often cost driven approach by business that wants to jam as much content into as many people in as little time as possible.  The often flawed thinking behind this is the notion that they can all be “signed off” as having attended a leadership development program, thereby satisfying someone’s KPI somewhere in the system. The only outcome of this approach is that we have proof that the person was indeed in the room and breathing at the time of the course. There is however little evidence of learning, let alone application of learning, and even less evidence of measurable outcomes of that application.  As many, if not all, of you reading this now will agree, true application and measurement of learning towards real business improvement takes time and effort, from the consultant, from the participant, from the participant’s manager and often others involved in embedding real learning…. And this time translates to cost in some way or another.

It is only when we truly develop learning organisations, a coaching culture and senior executives who courageously support the medium and longer term benefits of what I call “deep learning” in organisations, that we will see businesses serge ahead in growth, innovation, attraction and retention of high quality staff and increased market reputation.  These things of course include ongoing coaching, action learning projects, 360degree feedback instruments, work-based secondments, special assignments, and so forth. Fortunately, I have the pleasure of working with some of these senior executives and businesses.  Unfortunately, they appear to still be in the minority across industries.

– Darryl